Klopp insists Liverpool still have work to do after ‘OK’ result

Jurgen Klopp insists Liverpool’s job is only half done after their 2-1 win away at Hoffenheim in the Champions League play-off round, but is pleased with how his team handled the game.

Trent Alexander-Arnold’s fine free-kick and Havard Nordtveit’s own goal appeared to have put the Reds on the brink of qualification, but a late Mark Uth strike brought Hoffenheim back into the tie.

And, despite enjoying his side becoming the first team to win at the Wirsol Rhein-Neckar-Arena since May 2016, Klopp has called for an improvement ahead of the return leg at Anfield. 

Alexander-Arnold channels Gerrard

“If somebody told me we would win we would take any scoreline – even an 8-7 – so I am happy about the result,” Klopp said. “No, I’m not happy with the goal they scored, but I think they deserved the goal for their effort over the 90 minutes.

“They had their moments, especially when they changed a little bit their style of play, but we were very offensive on both wings, and that left Trent and Alberto (Moreno) alone.”

“The result is okay. The first half is done and if you said before the game we would win, I would take the result.

Klopp was pleased with the way his Liverpool team attacked Tuesday’s opponents, particularly at the start of the second half, but he acknowledged that his side were too open before the interval.

“Hoffenheim had a specific plan to play,” he said. “We gambled a little too much on the wing – it was a little dangerous in the first half.

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“But, as always when we play football, we found spaces in between and created wonderful chances.”


Alexander-Arnold channels Gerrard to lift Liverpool’s Champions League dreams


Trent Alexander-Arnold, while respectful and well rooted, has never been reticent about his ultimate ambition. The 18-year-old, born in West Derby, which houses Liverpool’s Melwood complex, has designs on being the captain of his boyhood club.

“One of the best all-round talents in Europe,” according to the Reds’ first-team development coach Pepijn Lijnders, took control of their destiny in the Champions League on Tuesday night.

Liverpool 22/1 to win the Champions League 

Trent Alexander-Arnold Liverpool Hoffenheim

Straight out of the playbook of Steven Gerrard, whom he mirrored as a kid kicking about in the park, Alexander-Arnold bent in a decisive free-kick – equal parts precision and proficiency – to twist the first-leg of the play-off against Hoffenheim in Liverpool’s favour.

Having practiced and perfected his technique in training, Emre Can, Roberto Firmino and Alberto Moreno were happy to step back and let the Scouser step forward – a decision taken by Jurgen Klopp.

Philippe Coutinho, who would usually assume responsibility, was absent with a back injury and is pushing for a move to Barcelona.

So, it was over to the youngest member of Liverpool’s matchday squad.

After a tiny shimmy and two strides towards the ball, he struck a curling beauty over the wall and right into the far corner – Oliver Baumann attempted to motion towards it, but there was no need to squander his energy.

Alexander-Arnold introduced himself to the European audience with a swagger and surety that his idol, watching on as an analyst for the game, enthusiastically applauded.

That dose of excellence on 35 minutes was needed for the visitors at the Rhein-Neckar-Arena, with Julian Nagelsmann’s men having given them several conundrums to solve defensively, especially down Liverpool’s left where a dysfunctional link-up between Dejan Lovren and Moreno was repeatedly exploited.

The former was penalised after he made contact with Serge Gnabry as the Spaniard was caught upfield trying to press Baumann with just 12 minutes played.

Andrej Kramaric’s weak effort from the spot was gratefully gathered by Simon Mignolet, who had a solid night considering the nervousness at times in front of him.

Paulinho gives away car as parting gift

Mohamed Salah wasted the opportunity to then put Liverpool ahead after Kevin Vogt ceded possession and Firmino fed the Egyptian, whose right foot let him down.

The encounter seemed to always be in the balance, with Sadio Mane again impressing for the Merseysiders and Alexander-Arnold ending the opening half as the most influential Liverpool player on the pitch.

The right-back made more passes (24), interceptions (4) and had more touches (41) than any of his team-mates heading into the interval.

HD Liverpool Hoffenheim

After the break, Firmino – facing his former employers for the first time – Salah, Mane, and Lovren were presented with chances to kill the game off, while the hosts continued to test Klopp’s side – especially in the air.

Liverpool did double their advantage on 74 minutes when Gini Wijnaldum cleverly took a free-kick quickly, passing to the Brazil international, who fed substitute James Milner.

Afforded space, he tried to pick out Salah at the back post, but his cross was deflected in by Havard Nordtveit for an own goal.

The Reds looked to have the fixture stitched up, but Hoffenheim continued to pepper in dangerous diagonal balls.

Hoffenheim v Liverpool

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Alexander-Arnold tried to claim offside on one of those long switches, failing to heed the whistle, and Lovren was playing Mark Uth on.

The forward controlled the ball on his chest before finishing emphatically to force a tense closing minutes.

The late goal was no less than the Bundesliga side deserved on a night in which they suffered their first home defeat since May 2016.

Nagelsmann felt they “weren’t the worst team, but the less lucky team.”

Regardless of his error at the end, Alexander-Arnold was – as Klopp put it – Liverpool’s “little hero”.

“It’s a thing of dreams to make your European debut for your boyhood club,” the teenager said afterwards. “To mark it with a goal was really special for me as well.”

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Hopefully, as with the other young Scouser that once had ambitions of wearing armband for Liverpool, there are many more glorious evenings to come for Alexander-Arnold on the continent.


Alexander-Arnold: I was ‘egged on’ to take free-kick in Champions League play-off

Trent Alexander-Arnold reflected on a dream European debut for Liverpool after he opened the scoring in a 2-1 win at Hoffenheim with a stunning free-kick.

With Jurgen Klopp’s men coming under pressure from the hosts in their Champions League play-off first leg, the 18-year-old fired a superb effort into the bottom corner to put his side in the driving seat.

Liverpool 22/1 to win the Champions League 

Alexander-Arnold was delighted with both the goal and the win, although he conceded some disappointment at Mark Uth’s late goal that keeps the tie alive, with James Milner’s deflected effort having initially doubled the visitors’ lead.

“It’s a dream to make your European debut for your boyhood club and to make it with a goal as well was very special for me,” he told BT Sport.

“But more importantly, we got the win. We’ll still be a little bit disappointed with the late goal, but it’s always good to take a lead back to Anfield.

“I was egged on [to take the free-kick]. I had the confidence to take it and it paid off.”

Jordan Henderson was full of praise for the young full-back, who also started in Nathaniel Clyne’s absence in the Premier League on Saturday.

Liverpool open CL qualifying with win

“He was brilliant last season,” Henderson added. “He’s come back and gone up another level again in pre-season.

“He’s been brilliant. Last week [against Watford], I thought he was outstanding and then tonight, brilliant again.

“The free-kick is no coincidence. He has been doing that every day in training for the last few weeks – that’s why he’s on them. He’s done it on the big stage, so fair play to him.

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“He’s just got to keep working hard and putting in performances like that.”


Liverpool target Van Dijk is not for sale this summer, reiterates Southampton chairman

Virgil van Dijk is not for sale and will be welcomed back into the Southampton squad when he accepts this state of affairs, according to the Premier League club’s chairman Ralph Krueger.

Netherlands centre-back Van Dijk is pushing for a move away from St Mary’s Stadium, having handed in a transfer request last week.

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He had been a top target for Liverpool but the Anfield club made a public statement declaring they had ended their interest in the 26-year-old in June amid allegations of an illegal approach.

Liverpool have already been the beneficiaries of signing prime Southampton talent during previous transfer windows, with Adam Lallana, Dejan Lovren and Sadio Mane all key members of Jurgen Klopp’s squad.

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But Krueger told the Southern Daily Echo that Southampton are now in a position to retain their prized assets and, as such, Van Dijk – who has also been linked with Chelsea and Manchester City – is not going anywhere.

“Our stance remains based on our strategy from May when we spoke last,” Krueger said.

“I already told you the numbers that we have transferred in and transferred out and it is time to stop that.

Virgil van Dijk Southampton

“We really thought this was a good summer for that. The strength of the contracts, age of the group and the experiences of last year, like going to a cup final [the EFL Cup], gave us the feeling this is a group that tasted winning and keeping them together would give us the chance to reach another level.

“Virgil is not the only player that is involved in this; he is part of the whole strategy of not selling. Nobody is for sale that we don’t want to sell, so he is not for sale in this window. We have said it more than once.”

Southampton played out a goalless draw with Swansea City in their opening Premier League game of the season last weekend – a first at the helm for boss Mauricio Pellegrino.

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Krueger praised the manner in which the Argentinean has dealt with the Van Dijk saga during his initial weeks in charge.

“Mauricio has done an amazing job of dealing with this situation,” he added.

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“It has not disrupted our team. It has not in any way caused a lack of focus in training, in the locker room, and of course everybody will open their arms when Virgil comes back and we go at it.”


Real Madrid v Barcelona Betting Special: Isco can steal the spotlight at the Bernabeu

Having lost 3-1 at home in the first leg of the Spanish Super Cup against Real Madrid on Sunday night there is both good news and bad news for Barcelona.

The bad news is that they need to score at least three goals in the second leg to keep alive their hopes of lifting the first piece of silverware of the season. The good news is that the Catalans have scored at least three times in three of their last four visits to the Bernabeu and recent Clasicos in the Spanish capital have been enthralling spectacles.

The most recent meeting came back in April when Lionel Messi scored an injury time winner in a 3-2 victory for the Blaugrana and the Argentine will once more be relied on for goals.

Lionel Messi Casemiro Real Madrid Barcelona ICC

Messi is the top scorer in the history of this fixture and offer him at a the tempting price of evens (2.00) to add to his tally of goals against Barca’s eternal rival. His strike partner Luis Suarez is offered at the same price, while Messi is available at 7/2 (4.50) to open the scoring and Suarez can be backed at 9/2 (5.50).

One of Barcelona’s problems is that apart from their front two, their starting line-up seems devoid of other goal threats, with the departure of Neymar underlining the dependence on their two main forwards. Ivan Rakitic scored a beautiful strike in the Catalans’ last visit to the capital and is offered at 5/2 (3.50) while Sergio Busquets missed a great chance in the first leg and is priced at 10/1 (11.00)

Cristiano Ronaldo will be missing following his first leg sending off of course, yet Los Blancos seem to have more players likely to score than their opponents. Already this season the likes of Isco, Marco Asensio and Casemiro have all found the back of the net, and having goal threats all over the pitch is one of the reasons why Zinedine Zidane’s team have scored in 67 consecutive matches.


At the Camp Nou, Benzema and Bale started up front for Madrid with the Frenchman priced at evens (2.00) to score at anytime on Wednesday and Bale available at 11/10 (2.10).

More tempting perhaps is the price of 7/4 (2.75) for Isco to score at anytime with the Spain international also available at 7/1 (8.00) to break the deadlock. Having scored in the UEFA Super Cup against Manchester United and put in a sensational performance at the Camp Nou, the 25 year old has begun the current campaign in the same impressive fashion with which he finished the previous season and looks a decent price to net once more. 

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Isco to score first at 7/1 (8.00) for a 1pt stake with dabblebet

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